“And here on the left we have a linen closet that I’m pretty sure the captain doesn’t know exists,” says Jimmy Goodlife, chief mate on the M/Y It’s A Living, as he gestures expansively towards a false wall panel that pops open when pressed, revealing a personal reality-escape pod disguised as stacked bedding. “In an emergency, such as needing a two-hour nap one hour into the workday, simply move the contents of shelves three and four up to shelves one and two, climb in, curl up in the fetal position, and try not to snore.”
Newly joined stewardess Sarah Diamond takes this in with a mixture of fear that this is some form of trap, and genuine gratitude for such highly prized information.
“Is this a trap?” She asks, being from Australia and not one to hold back.
Jimmy looks surprised. “I beg your pardon. There are no traps on the familiarization tour. I take this very seriously.”
“Then why does your coffee smell like jäger?”
“Why are you wearing sunglasses inside?”
“You clearly are.”
“Lets move on. I still have to show you how to get onboard when you’re too intoxicated to enter the door code and how to make a toasty at three in the morning without the chef knowing you’ve been in the galley.”
Sarah trails behind Jimmy as he ricochets down a darkened corridor, protecting his ‘coffee’ like its a newborn baby with a strange German name. While initially undecided now she is sure: she’s going to like it around here.
“You think it’s funny?” Chief Engineer Dan George, of the M/Y Why Me, quietly asks the main saloon bar’s ice machine, better known amongst the crew as That Fucking Piece Of Shit. The ice machine just looks cheekily back, drooling tepid water from its front lip all over the marble floor and threatening to ruin everything.
“It isn’t. It isn’t fucking funny at all you little piece of shit,” Dan whispers angrily, applying a spanner to a frozen valve with unnecessary force.
“Third bloody time this bloody week. You had one job ice machine. Hint: It is in your fucking name. We don’t call you the spill machine now do we? No. So why the fuck do you only make spills?”
An awkward silence fills the room. Dan works, rough and loose, pulling pipes, opening panels, throwing the odd jab to the kidneys, if ice machines had kidneys. A steady stream of swears issue forth from under his breath. His radio crackles.
Reaching maximum pissation now, Dan gives his radio a look so dark it actually answers for him.
“Yeah Dan here.”
“Boss is awake,” says the chief stew, using her vast resources of good cheer to be abominably irritating. “He says the toilet’s backed up, steam shower has no steam, and the outlet by his bed isn’t charging his phone as fast as the one in the office. Also wants to know if we can run the boat on solar power and how buoyancy works. He’s waiting in the sky lounge. Ta.”
Dan’s radio runs and hides. A storm cloud gathers above the engineer’s head, bolts of lightning forking out over the bar he’s working behind. Outside the birds stop singing. The Word Of The Day board in the crew mess switches itself from ‘yuletide’ to ‘homicide.’
And it is right then, with impeccable timing, that the ice machine chooses to expectorate a gob of watery sludge from deep within its pipework. The mouldy wad fragments as it hits Dan’s face, creating a blast pattern of gross shit that encompasses all of the engineer’s upper body. Some of it goes in his mouth.
He blinks again.
He then gently reaches out to close the hatch on the ice machine. His hand lingers, almost lovingly, on the injection-molded plastic door. And then, suddenly and without warning, he begins punching the shit out of the broken appliance.
He hits for the frustration of not having the budget to just get a goddamned new ice machine. For the fact the internet is never fast enough to talk to the girlfriend he’s pretty sure is about to walk on him (third this year). For there always being onions in everything the chef makes and goddammit he hates onions how many times does he have to say it? For low rates of interest on his savings, no raise in three years, should look for a new job but he needs to upgrade his ticket. For the teacher who said he wouldn’t amount to anything and now look. For endless routine maintenance. For worklists, yardlists, and mystery lists to port. For mouthy crew, micromanaging captains, unappreciative owners, dogs on boats, and rainy days-off. And in the end, not even thinking anymore, he just punches for the searing, endless, morbid difficulty of existence.
The ice machine is a wreck. It looks like it fell out of a plane. Breathing heavily Dan packs his tools away, and exits the main saloon. He passes through the lower pantry, and letting out a deep sigh he glances into the galley where the chef is smashing the shit out of a piece of meat that has long since moved from ‘tenderized’ to ‘pulverized.’ They exchange grim looks.
“Oh you betcha.”